At the board meeting on Tuesday, January 21, 2020, the Board Members, Sarah Palm Treasurer, and I discussed future financial needs for the district. The discussion focused on the need for new revenue soon for the district as well as a general discussion on our facilities.
During the discussion, Ms. Palm presented various operating levy options for the Board Members to consider for future elections. These included earned income and traditional property levies. The need for new revenue is critical for the district to continue to provide quality educational programming, interventions, and services for our students. Without additional revenue, the district would need to decrease its operating budget by a little over 10%. A 10% reduction equates to roughly 2.5 million dollars. A reduction of this size would result in staff reductions and program eliminations, as well as larger class sizes and fewer educational opportunities for our students. The school district has not received new operating revenue since 2012.
In addition to the discussion on operating levies, we talked about the district facilities. First and foremost, because of the sound financial restructuring of the bonds, the elementary schools will be paid off in 2022. As a result, this will reduce the taxes for property owners in the school district by 1.79 mills. Second, the district permanent improvement levy, which can only be used on facilities and items that last over five years like computers and busses, will expire in 2021. This levy generates $454,786, of which $141,181 is used to pay off debt from the replacement of boilers at CHS and CMS, lighting upgrades throughout the district, and electrical upgrades at CHS and other projects in 2013. So the remaining balance is $313,605. This money is needed to maintain the district facilities and equipment.
To give you an idea of how far this permanent improvement money is needed to stretch, the cost of a new bus is roughly $86,000. We typically have to purchase one or two school buses a year in order for the fleet to pass inspection. Roads and salt are terrible on our busses, and we run roughly 20 routes for our students and have to transport to Bio-Med and all parochial and private schools within a 30-minute drive. In the upcoming years, there is a need to resurface our track. The resurfacing is estimated to be over $200,000. The chip and seal project in the front high school parking lot was over $25,000. In 2016, an engineering and architectural firm estimated it would cost 8.8 million dollars to upgrade the middle school and the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission expected it to be 10.6 million dollars. As for the high school, the estimates were 14.8 million from the engineering firm and 18.4 million from the Ohio Schools Facilities Commission. The middle school was constructed in 1964 and had an addition in 1969. The high school was built in 1956 and has had additions in 1958, 1959, 1960, 1963, and 1969.
We have made some significant upgrades to our facilities with the money that we do have. I am sure that you have noticed outside lighting upgrades at all of our budlings. A security vestibule at the middle school was installed with a new one being installed at the high school over this spring break. We have made a dent in various paving upgrades throughout the district and have upgraded our camera security system. We have purchased some new busses to keep our fleet operational, roofs have been patched or repaired at the high school and middle school, and many other improvements have been made. Grants have also paid for some of the projects like the security vestibules, camera upgrades, as well as the new greenhouse classroom at the high school.
In our facility discussion, there was a high interest in replacing our current permanent improvement levy as opposed to renewing it to help maintain and upgrade our facilities. The permanent improvement levy will expire in 2022. It was first passed in the 1980s and has been renewed ever since. The difference between a renewal and a replacement levy is defined below.
A Renewal Levy is voter-approved to extend the term and purpose of an expiring levy while considering original property valuations at the time of passage.
Renewal mills have a reduction factor annually applied to raise the same amount of funding as in the first year of passage. If passed at the same mills as the original levy, a renewal levy usually will not change the amount of tax you currently pay.
A Replacement Levy is a voter-approved to extend the term and conditions of an expiring levy. However, unlike renewal levies, it considers present-day property valuation.
A video of this discussion can be found on our website and all board meetings at https://www.crestwoodschools.org/Content2/20268
As always if you have questions in regards to this and anything within our school district, please feel free to contact me at email@example.com
David M. Toth